“Everyday Virtue” A Devotion on Hebrews 13:18

“Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” —Hebrews 13:18

People frequently conflate religion with morality, as if they were the same thing. When we are children we imagine that if we are good, God will reward us. But the Christian faith insists that God loves us as we are. As Paul put it: “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Those who are honest before God in prayer know their flaws and foibles, their various sins of commission and omission. As comedian Steven Wright so eloquently put it: “A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.”

Still, we humans are capable of great kindness, decency and noble acts of courage. And, though religion isn’t morality, religion can and should foster it.

For a society to function humanely there needs to be widespread commitment to what I call “everyday virtue.” To “act honorably” towards others is needed now more than ever. One only needs to read the comments section on practically any post in social media to know how viciously mean we can be toward one another.

New information technologies make communicating around the globe easier, but with it has come a coarsening of public discourse. It is easier to fling harsh and hurtful words anonymously across an electronic medium than it is face to face.

The world would be a better place if we all tried to exercise everyday virtue: to watch our words, to tell the truth, to do the right thing and to strive to have a clear conscience.

Prayer: Forgive us, O God, for all the course and unkind words and deeds we have done. And guide us to act honorably in all things.

(This is my United Church of Christ Daily Devotion for July 23, 2018. To see the original go here. To subscribe to the UCC Daily Devotional and receive it every day by e-mail go here. Photo: “Rockland Clouds” by R.L. Floyd ©2016)

“The False God SUCCESS” A Devotion on 1 Corinthians 4:10-13

“God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.”

—1 Corinthians 4:10-13 Continue reading

“Small Beginnings” A Baptismal Sermon on Mark 4:30-34

Jesus also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?  It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.” —Mark 4:30-34 Continue reading

“Good Trouble” A Devotion on Mark 2: 27-28

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’”—Mark 2: 27, 28

Jesus was often in trouble with the authorities because he regularly, and quite intentionally, broke the religious rules of the day. Continue reading

“Your Sons and Your Daughters Shall Prophesy” A Devotion on Acts 2:16-17

“No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.‘’—Acts 2:16-17 Continue reading